Air Force veteran Barbara Jordan led the Black New Mexico Movement in Rio Rancho in the summer, organizing for equality and justice for Black and Brown people. Demonstrators there encountered angry pushback from hundreds of residents at some events, but she pressed on. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona reached out to Jordan to get her views on what she saw take place at the nation's Capitol last week, where a mob of people attempted an insurrection of the United States government—with notably less reaction from law enforcement than at BLM protests in 2020.
BARBRA JORDAN: I do believe that it was a simultaneous attack. I think it was coordinated and well-organized. For me, it was not surprising to see the tantrum that was displayed at the capitals across the United States. I feel like America showed us America. So for me, it is the call to action to other people who may be shocked or uncomfortable with what they saw, to now, finally, jump on board and help us with this fight against inequality.
KUNM: Now, you called it a tantrum. Why do you call it that?
JORDAN: I call it a tantrum, because it's like a nitche against white supremacy, and they are so hell bent on not giving that up, that they literally threw a tantrum.
KUNM: So it's like: You took away my favorite thing? How can I exist without this? I'm going to fight for it?
JORDAN: Yes, yes.
KUNM: Now you're a military veteran. There are stories that point to other military vets and law enforcement officers being involved in the insurrection. As someone who has put their life on the line for the country and our constitutional rights, how does it feel to see people who took the same or similar oath as you did take part in this insurrection?
JORDAN: So it's a slap in the face to me as a veteran, who has served the country for 20 plus years. So I believe all the members involved, the veterans that were there, whether they were active-duty or retired, they need to be investigated. They need to be separated. If they're still serving, if they are retired, they need to have their benefits taken away from them.
Because it lets me know—and it's a checkpoint for our leadership in service—that racism exists in the military. That has often too been a thing that has been grazed over or ignored. It's a wake-up call for our leadership, that they need to take a real hard look at what's going on. Anyone that was there at that protest needs to be investigated. If they took part in trying to breach the capital, they need to be separated. If veterans took part in breaching a capital, their benefits need to be taken away.
KUNM: Many people, including President-Elect Biden, have pointed out the disparity in the treatment between the BLM protests of last year and what happened on last Wednesday. Tell me about how you see that stark difference in treatment.
JORDAN: Let me tell you, for me, when I was watching it on TV, the names of so many of our Black brothers and sisters, our children, their faces came up for me, their names came up for me—Tamir Rice, George Floyd—and it was like a dagger in my chest. And it was a confirmation to me that they were murdered without regard for their life, because they just don't give a damn.
And if people think that we don't have this problem all across the United States, and including New Mexico, they're wrong. They're point-blank wrong. We have a serious issue here. It is time that people stop trying to turn a blind eye. It's time for people to stop trying to ignore it. And it's time for people to address it.
KUNM: Now, let me ask you, some DAs across the country have said that people who took part in the insurrection will be prosecuted in their home states. How do you feel about that?
JORDAN: They need to be prosecuted federally. That's federal land. That's our house. They need to be on no-fly list. They need to be brought back to where the crime occurred. And they need to be prosecuted, because they would do no less for Black people.
KUNM: As someone who has taken it into your own hands to stand up for a cause, what do you have to say to anyone who is upset with these events, who is listening right now, what do you have to say to them about what we must do as citizens?
JORDAN: We all have got to get involved. I consistently say this, and I'll say it again: We have to stay in the driver's seat of politics. Now, we do not get to be complacent. We do not get to sit on the sidelines. We need to be attending every virtual town hall meeting they're having about our civil rights. We need to be there. We need to be emailing our newly elected representatives and our senators. That's what we need to be doing with our energy right now.
A longer version of this conversation will air on Sunday with the return of No More Normal at 11 a.m.